Wealth of Congress: 14 Vulnerable Incumbents Are Worth at Least $1 Million

Only one of them has spent money on his own campaign so far this cycle

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill is the wealthiest member of Congress considered vulnerable for re-election this fall. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Fourteen vulnerable lawmakers were worth at least $1 million at the start of this Congress. These include House incumbents and senators whose November re-election races are rated either Toss-up, Tilts or Leans by Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.

Personal money isn’t always advantageous in a tough campaign, but it can be helpful. Just one of these members has donated or loaned money to their campaign so far this cycle.

Some of the wealthiest members who could have faced tough re-elections — like Reps. Darrell Issa of California and Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey — aren’t running. The wealthiest vulnerable lawmakers range from Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, whose minimum net worth ranks 24th on Roll Call’s list of all current members, to Minnesota Rep. Collin C. Peterson, who’s 202nd.

(View the complete rankings of the net worth of the 115th Congress here.)

Members need only report their financial positions in 11 broad ranges, starting with less than $1,000 and maxing out at $50 million or more. They do not need to report the values of their principal residences or their contents. Their liabilities during any part of 2016 are also counted. As such, our equation for calculating the minimum net worth of each member is:  total minimum reported value of assets minus total minimum reported value of liabilities.

Watch: A Guide to Roll Call’s Wealth of Congress

24. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

$26.9 million | Race rating: Toss-up

Nearly all of McCaskill’s assets are held by her husband, housing developer Joseph Shepard. Their only liability is $50,000 line of credit with Enterprise Bank. The Missouri Democrat had $9.1 million in her re-election account at the end of 2017. She has not made any contributions or loans to her campaign yet, though she did loan her 2012 Senate bid $195,000.

46. Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa

$10.2 million | Tilts Republican

Blum’s largest investments are in real estate with Oakland Farms, and companies including Digital Canal, a construction estimating software outfit. But a company the Iowa Republican left off his financial disclosure recently grabbed headlines. The Associated Press reported Blum violated House ethics rules by not disclosing that he owns Tin Moon Corp., a marketing company launched in 2016. Blum said the failure to list the company was an “administrative oversight.” He has loaned his campaign $500,000 so far this cycle (the same amount he loaned his 2016 effort). His campaign had $995,000 at Dec. 31.

54. Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Pa.

$6.6 million | Tilts Republican

About $5 million of the Pennsylvania Republican’s assets are held by his wife, Elsie. Her largest investments are in Texas Instruments and her family’s farm in Minnesota. Elsie’s father, Edgar Lewis, was vice president of Mellon Bank and her grandfather was the president of a steel company in Pittsburgh. Keith Rothfus has not made contributions to his campaign, but he is now in a competitive race thanks to a new congressional map. His campaign had $1.2 million at Dec. 31.

56. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif.

$6.2 million | Tilts Republican

The bulk of the California Republican’s more than $7 million in assets are investments in his plastics company, which he founded in 2000. The company manufactures plastic containers for the agriculture industry. Denham has $850,000 in liabilities, all in the form of mortgages, including the Longview Ave. farm in Atwater, California, and residences in Turlock, California, and the District of Columbia. He ended 2017 with $1.9 million in his campaign account, to which he has not made any personal loans or contributions.

90. Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va. 

$3.3 million | Toss-up

Most of Manchin’s $3.5 million in assets are in bank accounts or investments. The West Virginia Democrat’s largest single investment is in Enersystems, a coal brokerage company he used to run. Manchin’s only liability, jointly held with his wife, is a mortgage worth at least $250,000, incurred in 2015 on an undisclosed property. The former governor received $48,000 from a pension from the West Virginia Public Employees Retirement System. Manchin hasn’t contributed any personal money to his campaign war chest, which was worth $4.7 million at Dec. 31.  

119. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla.

$2.4 million | Leans Democratic

Most of Murphy’s $2.9 million in assets come from her husband. The largest are in real estate and trusts. The Florida Democrat’s father-in-law, Edward H. Haddock, is a wealthy businessman and the founder of Full Sail University, a for-profit university from which Murphy has a 401(k) plan. The freshman lawmaker has at least half a million dollars in liabilities that include two mortgages, one jointly held with her husband, and at least $15,000 in student loans. Murphy has not donated or loaned her campaign any money this cycle. She ended 2017 with $973,000 in her re-election account. She loaned her 2016 campaign $16,000.

125. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.

$2.2. Million | Toss-up

Two million of Heller’s more than $3 million in assets are held by his wife, Lynne, who has investments in her family’s portfolio. The Nevada Republican’s hay farm is worth at least a million. The Reno Gazette-Journal reported he did not have a proper business license for the farm. Heller originally said he did not need a license because his farm was not profitable, but he filed for one after the Gazette-Journal had asked about it. Heller has at least $1 million in liabilities in two jointly-held mortgages. He has not contributed or loaned funds to his campaign, which had $4.3 million at Dec. 31.

127. Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J.

$2.1 million | Leans Republican

A little less than half of the New Jersey Republican’s assets are through his wife, Heidi Rohrbach, who worked at JPMorgan Chase until 2004. Many of these large investments are through JPMorgan Chase and Prudential. Lance’s largest single assets are a UBS Financial investment and a Clinton, New Jersey, office building worth at least $100,000. The five-term congressman reported no liabilities and hasn’t kicked any personal resources into his $608,000 campaign account.

129. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J.

$2.1 million | Tilts Democratic

Gottheimer, who serves on the Financial Services Committee, reported $3.4 million in assets. The former speechwriter for President Bill Clinton has worked for Microsoft, in which he and his wife have at least $1 million invested. The New Jersey Democrat received a $191,000 salary from Asbury Advisors, a strategic communications and policy firm he founded. Most of his $1.3 million in liabilities stem from mortgages held jointly with his wife, including a 2013 mortgage worth at least a million dollars on a home in Wyckhoff, New Jersey, and another worth at least $250,000 on a rental property in Washington, D.C., incurred in May 2006. Gottheimer hasn’t made any donations or loans to his campaign. He ended 2017 with $2.6 million in his re-election account.

134. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.

$2.1 million | Toss-up

The North Dakota Democrat’s most valuable assets are in jointly held stocks with her husband in companies including J.P. Morgan Chase, Apple, Vanguard Health Care and Berkshire Hathaway. Heitkamp, a lawyer and former state attorney general, also had at least half a million dollars in liabilities incurred in 2013 through a mortgage. She has not made any loans or contributions to her re-election campaign, though she did contribute $9,000 to her 2012 bid. Heitkamp’s campaign had $4.5 million at the end of 2017.

150. Rep. Jason Lewis, R-Minn.

$1.8 million | Toss-up

The freshman congressman and former talk radio host’s largest assets include various Vanguard and Fidelity investments and money market accounts. Lewis has an unspecified liability with Wings Financial Credit Union worth at least $15,000. The Minnesota Republican hasn’t put any personal money into his campaign account, which stood at $718,000 at the end of 2017. 

160. Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz.

$1.6 million | Tilts Democratic

Most of O’Halleran’s investments are in real estate through a family trust and land in Yavapai County. The Arizona Democrat, a former state legislator and police officer, did not list any liabilities. He contributed $9,000 to his first campaign in 2016, but has yet to contribute or loan any funds to his re-election account. O’Halleran’s campaign had $736,000 at the end of 2017.

179. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.

$1.3 million | Tilts Democratic

The two-term Montana Democrat has at least $1.6 million in assets, most of which are in real estate jointly owned with his wife. Their farmland is worth over $1 million. Tester has relatively small investments compared to many wealthy members of Congress — just $3,000 — and less than $100,000 in bank account holdings. The couple’s one liability is a mortgage worth at least $250,000, incurred in 2013 through JPMorgan Chase. Tester ended 2017 with $6.3 million in his campaign account, which didn’t include any personal money.

202. Rep. Collin C. Peterson

$1.1 million | Leans Democratic

Nearly a million of the Minnesota Democrat’s $1.4 million in assets is in real estate, with another half million dollars in investments. Peterson’s personal residence in Becker, Minnesota, is worth at least $500,000. His condo in Washington, D.C., is worth at least $250,000. The 14-term congressman and his son hold a joint pursuit in Peterson Farms Partnership, which is worth at least $100,000. Peterson has another half million dollars in a Thrift Savings Plan. His liabilities are for mortgages on his D.C. condo and personal home. The ranking Democrat on the Agriculture Committee ended 2017 with $993,000 in his campaign account, which did not include personal money.

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